fearless critic houston restaurant guide (HOU)
has anyone picked up a copy of this book yet? i got mine at a book release party on thursday at mind puddles. i spent 3 hours reading it today and was interested to see if anyone else has any impressions or comments about the reviews and ratings.
this is their top 10 most delicious list:
1. da marco
3. vic and anthony's
7. udipi cafe
9. le mistral
i am delighted that himalaya and le mistral made this list. but confused with nippon making tops. i haven't been there in a couple years and even then went there mostly out of convenience. reef is good but i wouldn't consider it close to being in my top 10.
however, i am shocked and appauled at the following ratings:
-- mark's B-
-- chez nous D-
-- striphouse C- and pappas bros. steakhouse C+ (BUT mortons B, ruth chris's B+, taste of texas C
)-- goode co. BBQ C-
-- tampico seafood C+: "Whole fish, whether grilled or fried, is more of a letdown..."
I meant to stop by Borders and look at this today but forgot, so I haven't seen it but I have some reservations:
The blurbs cite the Boston Globe and New Haven paper --- what do they know about Houston dining??? I note particularly the Globe's comment (an excerpt, possibly taken out of context) that the book exhibits an ability to 'turn out zingers.' Unfortunately the ability to turn out zingers is not necessarily related to being a discerning diner or helpful critic, just takes some ego and a smart-ass attitude.
Who are these critics? and why should we take their opinions as more important? (Yes, I know they're named on amazon.com, but I've never heard of any of them). It's patently obvious that restaurant owners and their staffs post raves about their own places and trash the competition on b4-u-eat, who's to say these critics are unbiased and above that? And anyway where do they get the time to review other places, I've always understood being a chef is a very time consuming and exhausting job.
Through years and years of reading Houston restaurant reviews, I think I've got both of our major local reviewers pretty well pegged and know how to use their reviews. It doesn't help their credibility that they almost never find a restaurant to pan. I've also made note of other reviewers on CH, b4, eGullet, the old newsgroup houston.eats and elsewhere that I found to be very reliable and discerning so I have lots of ways to evaluate restaurants. Whether this one will be worthy of adding to the mix or is just an attempt to make money by advising foodies where they should eat to be 'in the know' or not remains to be seen.
It seems like it's more of a foodie resource than a chowhound resource, but I'm just playing devil's advocate here since I haven't seen it. I'll try to get a peek at it this week but it's likely I'll wait for the website rather than spending the bucks!
I like your approach, brucesw. If you're interested in what Austinites thought of our "Fearless Critic" Guide, check out:
Don't be surprised if the publisher posts to address criticism. My prediction is based on the fact that this happened both in the thread linked to above and in a discussion on the Austin board in which regular chowhounds disparagingly brought up one of FC's often-lame recommendations:
Hello, I won't defend the book, which is written by a bunch of chowhound members, in this forum -- it's up to you all to read and decide for yourselves whether you agree or disagree with our ratings and reviews.
However, I merely want to address two very specific factual questions that were raised above by brucesw:
1- the quotes from the Austin American-Statesman, Boston Globe, etc. were not about the Houston book (of course they wouldn't know anything about Houston dining). They were reviews of previous titles by the same author, which is standard for a first edition book (since it hasn't been reviewed yet).
2- the critics who were chefs were forbidden from reviewing either their own restaurants or any other restaurants they had worked at; in fact, one such restaurant, as reviewed by another critic, received a very negative review. Again as to bias, all critics paid for their own meals and none identified themselves.
Lists like this (as with any reviews) are subjective, of course... that said, I was going to order a copy on Amazon but since they're not discounting this one I'm on my way to Borders as soon as I finish typing this. Sounds like this will be a fun read and food for debate for months if not years to come!